Frank Douroux’s Little Gem Saloon

Status: Closed

Parish: Orleans

Location: New Orleans

1900s jazz saloon near Black Storyville: north corner of Poydras & S. Rampart: 449 S. Rampart Street: From the New Orleans Jazz History Business District/Back o’ Town Walking Tour brochure: “This prominent corner also later housed Pete’s Blue Heaven Lounge and was often both a starting and ending place for Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club funerals.” From “Jazz historians have long considered the 400 block of South Rampart Street the birthplace of jazz. The Little Gem Saloon was first opened in 1903, taking its place among other jazz clubs that have long been lost to the past including The Eagle Saloon and the Iroquois Theater. No other single location is more significant to the founding and evolution of jazz than this one. During its time the Little Gem Saloon served as a popular watering hole for early jazz legends like Buddy Bolden, Freddie Keppard and Jelly Roll Morton until closing its doors in 1909. Little Gem Saloon is a historic restaurant and live music venue that dates back to 1904 when the early progenitors of Jazz like Jelly Roll Morton and Buddy Bolden performed at Frank DourouxÕs Little Gem Saloon in the historic ÒBack OÕ TownÓ neighborhood that borders the infamous Storyville red-light district. As Jazz became one of New Orleans greatest exports, the 400 block of S. Rampart, also known as ÒThe RampÓ, was a teeming commercial district that included the Karnofsky Tailor Shopwhere Louis Armstrong reportedly worked in his youth, and numerous Jazz clubs including the legendary Eagle Saloon, and The Iroquois Theatre. Between 1926 and 1949, the building was home to David PailetÕs Loan Office, a combination pawn shop and hang out for musicians and in the 1950Õs, it became PeteÕs Blue Heaven Lounge, an R&B club where members of the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club began and ended members funerals. In the late 50Õs and early 60Õs, in the name of progress, the once thriving district was demolished in order to build a new City Hall, office towers and parking lots. The Little Gem Saloon was boarded up for close to 40 years until its rebirth in December 2012.”

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